Hunting Cryptids with Hoax Hunters co-creator Michael Morcei!
A few weeks ago, Jetpack Comics hosted the creators of the Image comic Hoax Hunters, Michael Morcei and Steve Seeley. The book focuses on a group of Cyrptid hunters who host a reality show called Hoax Hunters. The catch is that even though the show they host is trying to disprove the existence of Bigfoot, The Jersy Devil, and others, they actually cover up their existence so humans don’t know what’s out there. After the signing, I asked Michael Morcei if he’d be willing to answer some questions, and, well, what you see here is the result!
First, how did Hoax Hunters come to be?
We lost a bet.
That’s a joke. I think.
Anyway, Tim offered us a backup story in Hack/Slash. Steve and I tossed around a few ideas before we finally decided on Hoax Hunters, which was really kind of an amalgamation of many of the ideas. The lynchpin, the thing that really sold us on the idea, was the reality TV show angle. The idea to make it a TV show seemed like a perfect way to combine the best of both of our interests and keep it open for limitless possibilities. They weren’t just monster hunters, they weren’t a superhero team; they could go anywhere and face any foe, from urban legends to cryptids to UFOs.
So far, you’ve covered a lot of well-known cryptids, from Sasquatch-esque monsters to the Jersey Devil. How do you narrow down which ones you want to focus on? Do you and Steve find a creature that interests you then base a story around them, or vice versa?
That’s a good question. I think where we’re going with the story and what monster we utilize work in concert with one another, or at least that’s our ambition. The legend of the Haunchyville gnomes, the subject of this current arc, was something Steve and I never heard of. When we did, we knew we had to use it. And, luckily, it worked perfectly with what we’re ultimately trying to achieve in this story. It wasn’t easy making those pieces fit, but we got there, and I’m glad we did because it’s a strong final product. But, the forthcoming arc features Moth Man, and we’re building part of the story specifically around him. If you’re familiar with Moth Man, you know his history, that he’s a harbinger of forthcoming disaster. We knew that was an essential component to have as we wrap up the first season of Hoax Hunters (and I discuss this season format below).
What’s it like working for Image Comics? How much control do you have over your creation?
Working at Image is a dream come true. They have an amazing, talented staff, and Eric Stephenson is guy who is out there fighting for every Image title, fighting for the survival of the industry, fighting for comics in general. We get complete creative control which enable to make our own successes and failures—the result has been a whole lot of learning, but in a satisfying way. Image lets creators be themselves, artistically, and that’s a hard commodity to come across in any entertainment industry.
What creators influenced you in the past? Are there any characters or stories that have stuck with you?
There are so many, but off the top of my head: Brian K. Vaughn, Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, Mark Waid, Alex Toth…I can go on.
My influences…man, I’m all over the place. I range from Kurt Vonnegut to Kirby’s Fourth World to Breaking Bad to Raymond Chandler to the Fantastic Four. I’m a sponge for reading and absorbing, and there’s so much out there that I truly adore.
You’ve just been called by one of the big two publishers. They tell you can write any character. Who do you pick and why?
Great question! There are so many I’d love to write. Fantastic Four is my favorite, but I wouldn’t go anywhere near that book. Hickman set the bar so damn high—he basically told the FF story, the epic, amazing FF story that I’d pined for year after year. How do you follow that?
Given the choice, and complete freedom, I’d go with Mister Miracle. I think there are so many amazing stories waiting to be told with that character, in that universe. The whole idea of being an escape artists, someone bred for destruction who relies on deception and constantly putting his life at risk. There’s so much you can do there. And that’ the great challenge, for me: Taking a underutilized character and making him or her essential. Like Brubaker and Fraction’s Iron Fist, or Fraction’s Hawkeye. Just strip them down to their essentials and put them in a contemporary context. What a blast that would be.
What can we expect with future issues of Hoax Hunters?
A steady decline in quality, mainly. Then you’ll ultimately read about Steve and I turning to a life of petty crime.
Kidding (I hope). Right now, I’m putting all my focus into gearing up for writing the final arc of the first season. Since it’s a comic that incorporates a TV show, we found it convenient to compartmentalize things in seasons. It’s also a nice way for us to kind of reset things with the second season. Not a reboot or anything, but a way to start fresh by taking what’s happened and putting it on a new trajectory. Same as any TV show does. The new season of Homeland took what happened in the first put placed things in a new context. I like that as a storytelling tool.
So expect an epic final arc, starting in issue 10 and ending in issue 13. Questions will be answered and the overall mystery will become a little more clear. But, where we leave the characters will be in a place where they realize they’re in way over their heads—stay tuned to find out why.
The first Hoax Hunters volume is available now at your local shop, or online. New issues hit every month.